This is the second post in the Marketing Wednesday series. The first post was on the introduction of the Chief Marketing Officer. Today’s post is going to be on The Marketing Plan. I’d argue that the Marketing Plan is as important as the Business Plan for a business and certainly for a startup.
Your product is king. Is it the product that consumers will want to buy? If it’s something that they aren’t asking for, will they be able to understand it and have the vision for it’s application into daily lives? Is the product at the high or low end of the scale?
Pricing is unbelievably important. Not only will the right pricing strategy allow consumers to buy your product, but it’ll also help your product be carried by intermediaries such as retail and distribution partners. Pricing is about economics, specifically about elasticity of demand; so take pricing seriously. A simple way to look at pricing is to examine competitive (substitutive) products and understand where there is opportunity. If your product is using high end components, or has a premium feel, then pricing above market is probably necessary. Economic factors also affect pricing, so don’t just look at your product, understand the economic environment in which you’re selling in.
At the agency, we like to say that media is just important as the creative. Don’t go and design something beautiful and skimp out on where you’re placing the creative. Same here: your product is important and where it is being exhibited and sold is just as. If you’re placing an advertisement during an NHL broadcast is very different than marketing a product at a librarian convention.
How are you promoting your product? For startups, this is one of the top questions that we like to ask at kbs+p Ventures. We want to know how a startup intends to get it’s product/service into the marketplace and what type of promoting it intends to do. There are companies built around tweaking promotion, such as a “headline testing” or “multi-variate creative,” and this all falls under promotion.
Without the right people, the organization is often suboptimal. I was speaking at a recent sales conference for a startup and the speaker before me was the Chief Revenue Officer of a Top 5 media property. He stressed how important it was for him to attract and hire the right people, as it’s the people who sell their product. And that applies here too: what type of people do you need internally and externally to evangelize and communicate your product/service?
What is the tone of the environment in which you are marketing in? Think about putting a product on a Virgin America flight vs. Spirit. A very big difference that impacts consumer buying decisions.
Think Zappos. The aftersales (or before sales even) service is phenomenal. What is the value-added services that you are bundling with your service/product? How can you make it amazing (or not?).
Your experience unbundling your iPhone 4S happens when you go to the store to pick it up, then open up the box. It’s not when you turn on your phone for the first time. Great packaging goes a long way. You don’t need to go overboard, but put some thinking and time into your product packaging.
Now that you know what the 7Ps of Marketing are, they should all be addressed in your marketing plan. While many startups who pitch us today don’t always have a business plan, they have certainly thought thru their marketing plans to maximize their go-to and stay-in market approaches.
How long should your marketing plan be? 7ps – 7 slides. Simple. You should also revisit your marketing plan each quarter as you match it up to your business metrics. Don’t be afraid to tweak and/or radically change.
One of the exercises I like to do around positioning is to create a quadrant chart and position my “competitors” in different areas based on the criteria that I’ve assigned for the x&y axis. When I plot all my competitors (and secondary/tertiary), I usually see an opportunity within the marketplace by some open space on the chart. This is a fun exercise to do and will help you understand where there are opportunities within a market.